Tag Archives: Mackenzi Lee

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The Vampire Sorority Sisters series by Rebekah Weatherspoon

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Every sorority has its secrets…

And college freshman Ginger Carmichael couldn’t care less. She has more important things on her mind, like maintaining her perfect GPA. No matter how much she can’t stand the idea of the cliques and the matching colors, there’s something about the girls of Alpha Beta Omega—their beauty, confidence, and unapologetic sexuality—that draws Ginger in. But once initiation begins, Ginger finds that her pledge is more than a bond of sisterhood, it’s a lifelong pact to serve six bloodthirsty demons with a lot more than nutritional needs.

Despite her fears, Ginger falls hard for the immortal queen of this nest, and as the semester draws to a close, she sees that protecting her family from the secret of her forbidden love is much harder than studying for finals.

Buy All Three: Amazon| B&N

Out on Good Behavior by Dahlia Adler

25223500Frankie Bellisario knows she can get anyone she sets her sights on, but just because she can doesn’t mean she should—not when the person she’s eyeing is Samara Kazarian, the daughter of a southern Republican mayor. No matter how badly Frankie wants to test her powers of persuasion, even she recognizes some lines aren’t meant to be crossed.

But when Frankie learns she’s been on Samara’s mind too, the idea of hooking up with her grows too strong to resist. Only Sam’s not looking for a hookup; she wants—needs—the real thing, and she’s afraid she’ll never find it as long as Frankie’s in her head.

Forced to choose between her first relationship and losing the girl who’s been clawing her way under her skin, Frankie opts to try monogamy…under her own condition: 30 days of keeping things on the down low and remaining abstinent. If she fails as hard at girlfriending as she’s afraid she might, she doesn’t want to throw Samara’s life into upheaval for nothing. But when neither the month nor Frankie’s heart go according to plan, she may be the one stuck fighting for the happily ever after she never knew she wanted.

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound

Final Draft by Riley Redgate

35960813The only sort of risk 18-year-old Laila Piedra enjoys is the peril she writes for the characters in her stories: epic sci-fi worlds full of quests, forbidden love, and robots. Her creative writing teacher has always told her she has a special talent. But three months before her graduation, he’s suddenly replaced—by Nadiya Nazarenko, a Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist who is sadistically critical and perpetually unimpressed.

At first, Nazarenko’s eccentric assignments seem absurd. But before long, Laila grows obsessed with gaining the woman’s approval. Soon Laila is pushing herself far from her comfort zone, discovering the psychedelic highs and perilous lows of nightlife, temporary flings, and instability. Dr. Nazarenko has led Laila to believe that she must choose between perfection and sanity—but rejecting her all-powerful mentor may be the only way for Laila to thrive.

Buy it: B&N | Amazon | Indiebound

Learning Curves by Ceillie Simkis

40778310Elena Mendez has always been career-first; with only two semesters of law school to go, her dream of working as a family lawyer for children is finally within reach. She can’t afford distractions. She doesn’t have time for love.

And she has no idea how much her life will change, the day she lends her notes to Cora McLaughlin.

A freelance writer and MBA student, Cora is just as career-driven as Elena. But over weeks in the library together, they discover that as strong as they are apart, they’re stronger together. Through snowstorms and stolen moments, through loneliness and companionship, the two learn they can weather anything as long as they have each other–even a surprise visit from Elena’s family.

From solitude to sweetness, there’s nothing like falling in love. College may be strict…but when it comes to love, Cora and Elena are ahead of the learning curve.

Buy it: Amazon

Your Heart Will Grow by Chace Verity

verityKelpana was never supposed to love humans this much.

As a mermaid tasked with keeping peace between land and sea, her job is to be fair. Neutral. Diplomatic. Political. But her carefree spirit is bewitched by the carousing, free-swinging ways of the landfolk…yet one night of careless fun becomes a death sentence when she spurns a bratty prince. Now she’s facing life in prison—but that life won’t be long without the ocean waters that keep her alive.

Yet if Kelpana dreams of better things than this new, grim existence—so, too, does the young man set to guard her in her cell. Morgan Sunilian wants to be more than anyone ever believed he could be. He wants to be an Absolute, decked in gold armor and fighting alongside the kingdom’s most elite guardians. Morgan will do anything to prove he’s strong enough to be more than a prison guard.

To prove he can be an Absolute.

Yet as each day watching over Kelpana passes with him falling under the sweet spell of her soft voice and quiet stories, he realizes the truth of who he wants to be more than even an Absolute.

He wants to be a man of honor. A man of kindness. A man of fairness.

And a man with the strength to defy his orders, risk his life, and save the woman he’s come to love

Buy it: Amazon

Syncopation by Anna Zabo

37648566Twisted Wishes front man Ray Van Zeller is in one hell of a tight spot. After a heated confrontation with his bandmate goes viral, Ray is hit with a PR nightmare the fledgling band so doesn’t need. But his problems only multiply when they snag a talented new drummer—insufferably sexy Zavier Demos, the high school crush Ray barely survived.

Zavier’s kept a casual eye on Twisted Wishes for years, and lately, he likes what he sees. What he doesn’t like is how out of control Ray seems—something Zavier’s aching to correct after their first pulse-pounding encounter. If Ray’s up for the challenge.

Despite the prospect of a glorious sexual encore, Ray is reluctant to trust Zavier with his band—or his heart. And Zavier has always had big dreams; this gig was supposed to be temporary. But touring together has opened their eyes to new passions and new possibilities, making them rethink their commitments, both to the band and to each other.

Buy it: B&N | Amazon

For a Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig

museA young woman with a dangerous power she barely understands. A smuggler with secrets of his own. A country torn between a merciless colonial army, a terrifying tyrant, and a feared rebel leader. The first book in a new trilogy from Heidi Heilig.

Jetta’s family is famed as the most talented troupe of shadow players in the land. With Jetta behind the scrim, their puppets seem to move without string or stick a trade secret, they say. In truth, Jetta can see the souls of the recently departed and bind them to the puppets with her blood. But the old ways are forbidden ever since the colonial army conquered their country, so Jetta must never show never tell. Her skill and fame are her family’s way to earn a spot aboard the royal ship to Aquitan, where shadow plays are the latest rage, and where rumor has it the Mad King has a spring that cures his ills. Because seeing spirits is not the only thing that plagues Jetta. But as rebellion seethes and as Jetta meets a young smuggler, she will face truths and decisions that she never imagined—and safety will never seem so far away.

Heidi Heilig creates a world inspired by Asian cultures and French colonialism.

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound

The Traitor’s Tunnel by Cal Spivey

spiveyWitch-blooded robber Bridget has made a reputation for herself in the capital city, but she’s not interested in the attention of the Thieves’ Guild–and she’s not bothered by the rumors of urchin kidnappings, either. With winter coming, she’s looking out for herself and no one else.

Until she picks the wrong pocket, and recognizes her estranged brother Teddy.

Young craftsman Theodor arrives in the capital ready to take the final step toward his dream career as Lord Engineer of Arido. His apprenticeship with a renowned city engineer comes with new rules and challenges, but it’s worth it for the exposure to the Imperial Council.

While spying on her brother, Bridget overhears a secret meeting that reveals a cruel plot. After more than a decade apart, Theodor and Bridget must reunite to stop a traitor whose plan threatens not only their city, but the whole empire.

Set seven years before the events of From Under the MountainThe Traitor’s Tunnel is the story of two young people presented with a choice–to protect themselves, or to protect others–the consequences of which will change their lives forever.

Buy it: Amazon | B&N

Who’d Have Thought? by G. Benson

bensonTop neurosurgeon Samantha Thomson needs to get married fast and is tightlipped as to why. And with over $200,000 on offer to tie the knot, no questions asked, cash-strapped ER nurse Hayden Pérez isn’t about to demand answers.
The deal is only for a year of marriage, but Hayden’s going into it knowing it will be a nightmare. Sam is complicated, rude, kind of cold, and someone Hayden barely tolerates at work, let alone wants to marry. The hardest part is that Hayden has to convince everyone around them that they’re madly in love and that racing down the aisle together is all they’ve ever wanted. What could possibly go wrong?

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound

Double Exposure by Chelsea M. Cameron

cameronAnna Corcoran’s life is hectic, but that’s how she likes it. Between her jobs at the Violet Hill Cafe, the local library, and doing publicity work for authors, she doesn’t have much time for anything else. Until Lacey Cole walks into the cafe and she feels like she’s been knocked off her axis.

Lacey’s a photographer and writer and wants to do a profile on the cafe, including an interview with Anna. She’s game, but after spending a few days with Lacey, Anna is falling. Hard. The only problem is that Lacey isn’t going to be sticking around. She floats from town to town, never staying in one place.

But as they get closer and closer, Anna wonders if maybe this would be the one time when Lacey would decide to stay put. With her.

Buy it: Amazon | B&N

Wander This World by G.L. Tomas

thomas1Some people are just attracted to darkness…

Penley thought he had his life figured out. So why does his world turn upside down when Melanie Blue walks back in it?

Melanie’s lived a thousand lives–possibly taken even more. Targeted by serial killer, she’ll find she has more to worry about than resisting own her nature.

When Penley and Melanie’s path collide, they’ll find that want and need often lead to the same thing.

Will Melanie lose everything when she meets her match?

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound

Castle of Lies by Kiersi Burkhart

burkhartThelia isn’t in line to inherit the crown, but she’s been raised to take power however she can. She’s been friends with Princess Corene her whole life, and she’s scheming to marry Bayled, the heir to the throne. But her plans must change when an army of elves invades the kingdom. Thelia, her cousin Parsival, and Corene become trapped in the castle. An elf warrior, Sapphire, may be Thelia’s only hope of escape, but Sapphire has plans of their own. Meanwhile, an ancient magic is awakening within the castle, with the power to destroy the whole kingdom. Can Thelia find a way to protect her future–and her life?

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound

0519_9781488051265_Reverb_WebTwisted Wishes bass player Mish Sullivan is a rock goddess—gorgeous, sexy and comfortable in the spotlight. With fame comes unwanted attention, though: a stalker is desperate to get close. Mish can fend for herself, just as she always has. But after an attack lands her in the hospital, the band reacts, sticking her with a bodyguard she doesn’t need or want.

David Altet has an instant connection with Mish. A certified badass, this ex-army martial arts expert can take down a man twice his size. But nothing—not living as a trans man, not his intensive military training—prepared him for the challenge of Mish. Sex with her is a distraction neither of them can afford, yet the hot, kink-filled nights keep coming.

When Mish’s stalker ups his game, David must make a choice—lover or bodyguard. He’d rather have Mish alive than in his bed. But Mish wants David, and no one, especially not a stalker, will force her to give him up.

Buy it

The Queen of Dauphine Street by Thea De Salle

31302860Madeline Roussoux has it all: money, a dozen houses, a private jet, a cruise ship, even a tiger. Everyone knows her name. Her every move is watched, absorbed, adored, and abhorred by the public. She’s a dazzling spectacle on the society scene—a beautiful, flamboyant poster child for American privilege and Hollywood celebrity.

And she’s never felt more alone.

All the wealth in the world can’t make up for Maddy’s losses. Her father’s suicide and her mother’s ensuing breakdown left her orphaned as a teenager. She survived, but barely. From stints in rehab to a string of failed marriages, her dazzling smile hides deep scars. Finally, losing Sol DuMont, the one person she ever truly loved, has her wondering what is the point of being surrounded by people when you’re perpetually on your own?

Enter Darren Sanders. He’s a beautiful Texas boy with a big heart and a bigger smile; the type of man women go crazy for. Literally. When Darren’s ex stalks him and then makes an attempt on his life, circumstances find him off to New Orleans with none other than Maddy Roussoux. He thought he knew everything there was to know about her, but there’s more to the woman whose image graces the covers of magazines worldwide, and Darren finds himself drawn into a world of excess he never imagined possible.

Buy it: Amazon | Apple Books

Empire of Light by Alex Harrow

empireoflight-f500Damian Nettoyer is the Empire’s go-to gun. He kills whoever they want him to kill. In exchange, he and his rag-tag gang of crooks get to live, and Damian’s psychokinetic partner and lover, Aris, isn’t issued a one-way ticket to an Empire-sanctioned lobotomy.

Then Damian’s latest mark, a suave revolutionary named Raeyn, kicks his ass and demands his help. The first item on the new agenda: take out Damian’s old boss—or Raeyn will take out Damian’s crew.

To protect his friends and save his own skin, Damian teams up with Raeyn to make his revolution work. As the revolution gains traction, Damian gets way too close to Raeyn, torn between the need to shoot him one moment and kiss him the next. But Aris slips further away from Damian, and as Aris’ control over his powers crumbles, the Watch catches on.

With the Empire, Damian had two policies: shoot first and don’t ask questions. But to save the guy he loves, he’ll set the world on fire.

Buy it: Amazon | NineStar Press | Books2Read

Their Troublesome Crush by Xan West

Their Troublesome Crush cover final large jpegIn this queer polyamorous m/f romance novella, two metamours realize they have crushes on each other while planning their shared partner’s birthday party together.

Ernest, a Jewish autistic demiromantic queer fat trans man submissive, and Nora, a Jewish disabled queer fat femme cis woman switch, have to contend with an age gap, a desire not to mess up their lovely polyamorous dynamic as metamours, the fact that Ernest has never been attracted to a cis person before, and the reality that they are romantically attracted to each other, all while planning their dominant’s birthday party and trying to do a really good job.

Buy it: Amazon

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Available for Pre-Order

Wild and Crooked by Leah Thomas (June 4, 2019)

thomasCritically-acclaimed author Leah Thomas blends a small-town setting with the secrets of a long-ago crime, in a compelling novel about breaking free from the past.

In Samsboro, Kentucky, Kalyn Spence’s name is inseparable from the brutal murder her father committed when he was a teenager. Forced to return to town, Kalyn must attend school under a pseudonym . . . or face the lingering anger of Samsboro’s citizens, who refuse to forget the crime.

Gus Peake has never had the luxury of redefining himself. A Samsboro native, he’s either known as the “disabled kid” because of his cerebral palsy, or as the kid whose dad was murdered. Gus just wants to be known as himself.

When Gus meets Kalyn, her frankness is refreshing, and they form a deep friendship. Until their families’ pasts emerge. And when the accepted version of the truth is questioned, Kalyn and Gus are caught in the center of a national uproar. Can they break free from a legacy of inherited lies and chart their own paths forward?

Pre-Order: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound

Loki: Where Mischief Lies by Mackenzi Lee/ill. by Stephanie Hans (September 3, 2019)

37076222Before the days of going toe-to-toe with the Avengers, a younger Loki is desperate to prove himself heroic and capable, while it seems everyone around him suspects him of inevitable villainy and depravity . . . except for Amora. Asgard’s resident sorceress-in-training feels like a kindred spirit-someone who values magic and knowledge, who might even see the best in him.

But when Loki and Amora cause the destruction of one of Asgard’s most prized possessions, Amora is banished to Earth, where her powers will slowly and excruciatingly fade to nothing. Without the only person who ever looked at his magic as a gift instead of a threat, Loki slips further into anguish and the shadow of his universally adored brother, Thor.

When Asgardian magic is detected in relation to a string of mysterious murders on Earth, Odin sends Loki to investigate. As he descends upon nineteenth-century London, Loki embarks on a journey that leads him to more than just a murder suspect, putting him on a path to discover the source of his power-and who he’s meant to be.

Buy it: Amazon | B&N

Prom by Saundra Mitchell (September 10, 2019)

mitchellAn honest, laugh-out-loud, feel-good novel inspired by the hit Broadway musical The Prom –a New York Times Critic’s Pick! 

Seventeen-year-old Emma Nolan wants only one thing before she graduates: to dance with her girlfriend at the senior prom. But in her small town of Edgewater, Indiana, that’s like asking for the moon.

Alyssa Greene is her high school’s “it” girl: popular, head of the student council, and daughter of the PTA president. She also has a secret. She’s been dating Emma for the last year and a half.

When word gets out that Emma plans to bring a girl as her date, it stirs a community-wide uproar that spirals out of control. Now, the PTA, led by Alyssa’s mother, is threatening to cancel the prom altogether.

Enter Barry Glickman and Dee Dee Allen, two Broadway has-beens who see Emma’s story as the perfect opportunity to restore their place in the limelight. But when they arrive in Indiana to fight on Emma’s behalf, their good intentions go quickly south.

Between Emma facing the fray head-on, Alyssa wavering about coming out, and Barry and Dee Dee basking in all the attention, it’s the perfect prom storm. Only when this unlikely group comes together do they realize that love is always worth fighting for.

Preorder: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound

All the Things We Do in the Dark by Saundra Mitchell (October 29)

There’s no such thing as a secret.

SOMETHING happened to Ava. The curving scar on her face is proof. But Ava would rather keep that something hidden—buried deep in her heart and her soul.

She has her best friend Syd, and she has her tattoos—a colorful quilt, like a security blanket, over her whole body—and now, suddenly, she has Hailey. Beautiful, sweet Hailey, who seems to like Ava as much as she likes her. And Ava isn’t letting anything get in the way of finally, finally seeking peace. But in the woods on the outskirts of town, the traces of someone else’s secrets lie frozen, awaiting Ava’s discovery—and what Ava finds threatens to topple the carefully-constructed wall of normalcy that she’s spent years building. Secrets leave scars. But when the secret in question is not your own—do you ignore the truth and walk away? Or do you uncover it from its shallow grave, and let it reopen old wounds—wounds that have finally begun to heal?

Buy it: B&NAmazon

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New Release Spotlight: All Out ed. by Saundra Mitchell

All historical, all queer, all out! This new anthology, edited by Saundra Mitchell, just released from Harlequin Teen and contains a host of queer historical stories by so many faves! (And also me!) Thankfully, many of those faves agreed to share a little about their stories here, so check it out, make good use of those buy links, and enjoy!

(Photographs are mine.)

35140599Take a journey through time and genres and discover a past where queer figures live, love and shape the world around them. Seventeen of the best young adult authors across the queer spectrum have come together to create a collection of beautifully written diverse historical fiction for teens.

From a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood set in war-torn 1870s Mexico featuring a transgender soldier, to two girls falling in love while mourning the death of Kurt Cobain, forbidden love in a sixteenth-century Spanish convent or an asexual girl discovering her identity amid the 1970s roller-disco scene, All Out tells a diverse range of stories across cultures, time periods and identities, shedding light on an area of history often ignored or forgotten.

Buy it: B&N * Amazon * IndieBound * Powell’s * Book Depository

I’m delighted to have a number of the contributors sharing a bit about their stories!

Anna-Marie McLemore, “Roja”

“Roja” began as a reimagining of the story of Leonarda Emilia, better known as La Carambada, the legendary Mexican outlaw who flashed her breasts at the rich men she robbed, so they would know without a doubt that they’d been bested by a woman. But along the way, my imagining of La Carambada wandered, as my stories often do, into the realm of fairy tale. My Emilia became a Mexican version of Little Red Riding Hood. The Wolf emerged as a transgender French soldier who garners his own fierce reputation. The forbidding woods became the hills of Mexico in the 1870s, a country in the aftermath of a brutal war.

Maybe the Frenchman the real Leonarda Emilia loved wasn’t a transgender soldier. Maybe most people don’t think of a Mexican girl when they imagine Little Red Riding Hood. But for the time it took me to write “Roja,” I got to imagine both Red and La Carambada as both queer and Latina. Writing “Roja” made these stories feel like they belonged to girls like me.

Natalie C. Parker, “The Sweet Trade”

I am a life-long fan of pirate stories, historical and fictional. As a kid, I believed that the only people who became pirates were boys and men. This was certainly what I’d learned from history—Blackbeard and Calico Jack—and definitely what was reflected in fiction—Long John Silver and Captain Hook. When I finally discovered that girls and women were also a part of the historical narrative (Anne Bonny! Madame Cheng!), I immediately wanted to find their reflection in fiction. They are there, but those who land in the adventure tend to find themselves sidetracked to the adventures of boys and are rarely queer in any way.

I wrote “The Sweet Trade” because I wanted to see queer girls choosing adventure and choosing each other. I wanted to explore the origin story of two girls breaking away from the expectations of others and striking out on their own. In that way, it’s sort of a pre-pirate story, the opening gambit in what will surely be a grand adventure.

Nilah Magruder, “And They Don’t Kiss at the End”

It’s all in the title, really. I wrote “And They Don’t Kiss at the End” because I needed a story with no kissing. Romance and sex always made me a little uncomfortable, not just in practice, but in theory. I ran from declarations of love and admiration from friends. I scrunched my face and turned away when the guy got the girl in movies. I thought I was a “late bloomer” when this aversion persisted into adulthood. I kept waiting to meet “the one” to cure my indifference, and they never came. This story is an exploration of asexuality in the 1970’s, at a time when terminology to describe asexuality was still being formed. It was a chance for me to imagine different choices than the ones I made in my youth. Getting to gush about Pride & Prejudice with roller skating as a backdrop was also a plus.

Dahlia Adler, “Molly’s Lips”

Kurt Cobain’s shirt worn in the video for Smells Like Teen Spirit, photographed at the Experience Music Project in Seattle

I used to fear writing short stories because I didn’t know how to make them feel like a complete story without death. I’ve grown since then, but death is still very much present in “Molly’s Lips”— specifically, that of Kurt Cobain, deceased frontman of my favorite band, Nirvana; the story is set at his big vigil in Seattle on April 10, two days after his body was found. And it isn’t about girls falling in love; they’ve already fallen. It’s about finding the voice, the confidence, the words to share those feelings, and the bravery they were given by someone who had the courage to push back against bigotry in his fandom. It’s also a love story with its own built-in soundtrack; what could be better than that?

Mackenzi Lee, “Burnt Umber”

My family is from the Netherlands–my dad grew up in a Dutch farming community in Iowa, my last name (which is not Lee) is very long and starts with a Van, and I have a fondness for all poetry from Delft. When this anthology invitation came my way, I was about to go to Amsterdam to research a different writing project. While there, my already-existing fascination with Dutch art from the Golden Age became an obsession. I wanted to know all about painting, why these paintings existed, what it took to become a master painter and the commodification surrounding art and masterpieces. Art that, in its day was considered commercial trash is now hanging in galleries people from all over the world visit. It was all a lot of information that had no place in the book about flowers I was researching, and I wasn’t sure I’d ever get to use it. But when I visited Rembrandt’s studio in Holland, I knew I wanted to write something set in the Dutch art world and this story was a perfect opportunity.

The Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

One of my favorite things to do in my writing is take the tropes of historical or genre narratives and give them to queer characters. This story is “draw me like one of your French girls” from Titanic. It’s Girl with the Pearl Earring. It’s the Vincent Van Gogh episode of Dr. Who. But it’s two boys, an artist’s studio, a significant lack of clothing, and a whole lot of awkward teenage crush.

Alex Sanchez, “The Secret Life of the Teenage Boy”

“The Secret Life of a Teenage Boy” takes place in 1969, when I was a teen bursting with romantic yearning. Although I was aware of my attraction toward other boys, I had no positive words to put to those intimate feelings—only negative slurs. People rarely spoke openly or honestly about sex. Homosexuality was considered a mental disorder. Acting on it was a criminal offense. I didn’t know of any openly gay people. The term “gay” had barely even come into use. In my teenage isolation, I fantasized for hours about a strong handsome young guy who would swoop into my life and carry me away to a place where we could be free to love each other. This story is a reminiscence of what it was like to live in that time and place, yearning for a life and a world that would take years to come.

Kate Scelsa, “The Coven”

Since I started working on my theater company’s adaptation of Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises” back in 2010, I’ve done a lot of reading about Hemingway and his peers in Paris in the 20’s, and something that’s always fascinated me was Hemingway’s relationship with Gertrude Stein and this whole community of lesbians that he used to hang out with. The vision of Gertrude Stein as a kind of den mother has always appealed to me, so I wanted to give her that role with two young women who were still figuring out who they were to each other. And then of course Hemingway himself needed to make an appearance. And, yes, there are witches.

Tess Sharpe, “The Girl With the Blue Lantern”

I grew up in Gold Rush country, in the shadow of a mountain that has many stories and myths attached to it. I also grew up writing Sci-Fi and Fantasy instead of the contemporary mysteries and thrillers I write now, so being able to create a historical fantasy piece was a special treat.

People still make a living pulling gold from the water and dirt in my childhood county. I’ve panned little flakes and tiny nuggets out of the creek that snakes through our homestead myself. Gold has been a strong motivator for many things throughout our history: war, destruction, greed, murder, exploitation, exploration, colonization.

But in “The Girl with the Blue Lantern,” gold leads us to a very different place: love. A story of escape and acceptance, of gold sprites, and of one very silly dog named Virgil.

Kody Keplinger, “Walking After Midnight”

Walking After Midnight” is, at it’s core, a love letter to the trope of “two strangers meet and walk around talking all night.” I’m a sucker for stories like Before Sunrise, and I thought it would be fun to explore that sort of narrative between two young queer women. Betsey is an actress who hasn’t quite made the leap from child star to leading lady the way someone like Elizabeth Taylor did. Laura is a waitress at her family’s diner and isn’t sure she’ll ever escape her small town. I loved exploring these girls’ opposing situations, their hopes and fears. And getting to write about Betsey, whom I’d describe as gray-asexual, was a joy.  Plus, I mean, I got to use all the things I’ve learned from the You Must Remember This podcast to good use!

Tessa Gratton, “Three Witches”

As a queer “recovering” Catholic and occasionally practicing witch, I’ve for years been aware of the threads of desire that can be found in medieval Catholic writing. Usually it’s desire for heaven or Christ’s touch, especially to the nuns considered to be “married” to Christ, but often this desire surpasses the flesh in queer ways, especially in the writings of the female mystics like St. Teresa of Avila. In “Three Witches” I wanted to explore the desire embedded in the prayers and explorations of medieval nuns, as well as the inherent conflict between desire and purity in the imagery and words associated with the Virgin Mary. The Inquisition was the strongest political force in Spain during the 15th century, hunting predominantly Jewish people and Muslims, but also available to excise anything unwanted from the Church. Including “unnatural” desire.

That’s all to say: I wanted to write a sexy, difficult story about two girls falling in love (and in lust) while grappling with what they’re told they should desire. And I wanted to write about witches. 

Sara Farizan, “The End of the World as We Know It”

I know 1999 is a year that should not belong in a historical fiction anthology, but it was almost twenty years ago!  I wanted to write a story that took place at the end of the twentieth century and encapsulated some of the hopes and fears people had going into the new century. Ezgi and Katie, two life- long best friends who have a strained relationship, also have their own hopes and fears for the future that come to light on New Year’s Eve while watching MTV’s countdown to midnight. When you think the world might come to an end, and tomorrow might mean the end of civilization as you know it (Y2K, man. What a trip), you have to hold on to the people you care about most, no matter how scary or daunting that may seem.

Shaun David Hutchinson, “The Inferno and the Butterfly”

I love magic. And what’s more magical than finding love in an unexpected place? “The Inferno and the Butterfly” was a story I’ve been dying to tell. I’ve always been fascinated by stage magicians, and though Alfie and Wilhelm might be the assistants, they’re the ones performing the real magic.

2017 Good News Roundup of LGBTQ Reads

Continuing in the tradition that’s been happening on this blog since…last year, I’m documenting some of the many literary accolades that’ve been heaped on incredible LGBTQIAP+ works this year, partly to help you find great books but mostly just so we can bask in the joyous glory. Without further ado, check out what’s been deemed this year’s best of the best!

Middle Grade

The Pants Project by Cat Clarke: Kirkus’s Best Middle-Grade School and Friendship Stories of 2017

Felix Yz by Lisa Bunker: NPR’s Best Books of 2017

Young Adult

The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater: a New York Public Library Best Book of 2017, a B&N Best Book of 2017, School Library Journal‘s Best Nonfiction of 2017, a Kirkus Best Teen Nonfiction of 2017,

The Art of Starving by Sam J. Miller: NPR’s Best Books of 2017

At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson: Best Teen Fiction of 2017 by Chicago Public Library

Dreadnought by April Daniels: a New York Public Library Best Book of 2017, a Kirkus Best Teen Fantasy of 2017

Sovereign by April Daniels, a Kirkus Best Teen Fantasy of 2017

Dress Codes for Small Towns by Courtney Stevens: a Kirkus Best Contemporary Teen Reads of 2017

Far From the Tree by Robin Benway: National Book Award winner, New York Times bestseller, Publishers Weekly Best YA of 2017, one of Bustle‘s 17 Best YA Novels of 2017, a Kirkus Best Contemporary Teen Reads of 2017, Best Teen Fiction of 2017 by Chicago Public Library, a B&N Best Book of 2017B&N Teen Blog’s Best YA of 2017, NPR’s Best Books of 2017

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee: New York Times bestseller, Publishers Weekly Best YA of 2017, Booklist Editors’ Choice: Books for Youth 2017, a Kirkus Best Teen Books of 2017 with a Touch of Humor, Best Teen Fiction of 2017 by Chicago Public Library, one of Bustle‘s 17 Best YA Novels of 2017, a New York Public Library Best Book of 2017, a B&N Best Book of 2017NPR’s Best Books of 2017, New York Magazine‘s 10 best YAs of 2017

Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard: Lambda Literary Award for YA Fiction

History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera: one of Time‘s best YAs of 2017

Ida by Alison Evans: shortlisted for the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards 2018

I Hate Everyone But You by Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin: Best Teen Fiction of 2017 by Chicago Public Library

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo: Stonewall Award (YA)

In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan: B&N Teen Blog’s Best YA of 2017

It’s Not Like it’s a Secret by Misa Sugiura: a Kirkus Best Teen Romances of 2017

Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore: Best Teen Fiction of 2017 by Chicago Public LibrarySchool Library Journal Best YA of 2017, B&N Teen Blog’s Best YA of 2017

Like Water by Rebecca Podos: B&N Teen Blog’s Best YA of 2017

A Line in the Dark by Malinda Lo: Best Teen Fiction of 2017 by Chicago Public Library, a Kirkus Best Teen Mysteries and Thrillers of 2017, New York Magazine‘s 10 best YAs of 2017

Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert: a Kirkus Best Teen Romance of 2017, one of Bustle‘s 17 Best YA Novels of 2017, New York Magazine‘s 10 best YAs of 2017, Booklist Editors’ Choice: Books for Youth 2017

Noteworthy by Riley Redgate: a New York Public Library Best Book of 2017

Now I Rise by Kiersten White: B&N Teen Blog’s Best YA of 2017

Pride: Celebrating Diversity & Community by Robin Stevenson: Stonewall Honor (YA)

Queer, There, and Everywhere: 23 People Who Changed the World by Sarah Prager: a New York Public Library Best Book of 2017

Radio Silence by Alice Oseman: Best Teen Fiction of 2017 by Chicago Public Library

Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy: Best Teen Fiction of 2017 by Chicago Public Library, a Kirkus Best Teen Romance of 2017

Release by Patrick Ness: Best Teen Fiction of 2017 by Chicago Public Library, a Kirkus Best Teen Romance of 2017

Spinning by Tillie Walden: Publishers Weekly Best YA of 2017, a New York Public Library Best Book of 2017, Booklist Editors’ Choice: Books for Youth 2017, a B&N Best Book of 2017Top 10 Queer and Feminist Books of 2017 via Autostraddle,

Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee: Best Teen Fiction of 2017 by Chicago Public Library

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera: New York Times bestseller, School Library Journal Best YA of 2017, Booklist Editors’ Choice: Books for Youth 2017, one of Bustle‘s 17 Best YA Novels of 2017, a Kirkus Best Teen Sci-Fi of 2017

This is Where it Ends by Marieke NijkampNew York Times bestseller

Unbecoming by Jenny Downham: Stonewall Honor (YA)

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour: Publishers Weekly Best YA of 2017, B&N Teen Blog’s Best YA of 2017, Booklist Editors’ Choice: Books for Youth 2017, one of Bustle‘s 17 Best YA Novels of 2017, a New York Public Library Best Book of 2017, a B&N Best Book of 2017: Teens

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore: Stonewall Honor (YA)

Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemoreSchool Library Journal Best YA of 2017, a Kirkus Best Teen Romance of 2017,  Booklist Editors’ Choice: Books for Youth 2017Best Teen Fiction of 2017 by Chicago Public Library

Manga/Graphic Novel

My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness by Nagata Kabi: a B&N Best Book of 2017NPR’s Best Books of 2017

Adult Fiction

Amberlough by Lara Elena Donnelly: B&N Sci-Fi’s Best SFF Books of 2017

The Angel of History by Rabih Alameddine: Lambda Literary Award for Gay Fiction

Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney: Elle‘s Best Books of 2017Slate‘s Best Books of 2017, one of Buzzfeed’s 24 Best Fiction Books of 2017

Cottonmouths by Kelly J. Ford: a Los Angeles Review‘s Best Book of the Year

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado: National Book Award finalist, a Los Angeles Review‘s Best Book of the Year, winner of the Bard Fiction Prize, Kirkus Prize finalist, #1 Indie Next Pick for October 2017, Top 10 Queer and Feminist Books of 2017 via Autostraddle, one of New York Times’ Critics’ Top Books of 2017, one of Washington Post‘s 50 Notable Works of Fiction in 2017, Los Angeles Times’ Best Books (Fiction) of 2017, Publishers Weekly Best Fiction of 2017, Chicago Tribune‘s Best Books of 2017, Kirkus’s Best Fiction of 2017, Boston Globe‘s Best Books of 2017, Elle‘s Best Books of 2017, NPR‘s Best Books of 2017, Slate‘s Best Books of 2017, Library Journal‘s Best Books (Short Stories) of 2017, Bustle‘s Best Fiction Books of 2017, Entropy Magazine‘s Best of 2017: Fiction Books, Huffington Post‘s The Best Fiction Books of 2017, one of Buzzfeed’s 24 Best Fiction Books of 2017, Commonweal‘s Top Books of 2017

Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn: Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Fiction

Into the Blue by Pene Hanson: Lambda Literary Award for Gay Romance

Marrow Island by Alexis M. Smith: Lambda Literary Award for Bisexual Fiction

Not One Day by Anne Garréta (trans. by Emma Ramadan): Entropy Magazine‘s Best of 2017: Fiction BooksAlbertine Prize 2018 nominee

Pages for You by Sylvia Brownrigg: Kirkus’s Best Fiction to Get Your Book Club Talking of 2017

Small Beauty by jia qing wilson-yang: Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Fiction

Soul to Keep by Rebekah Weatherspoon: Lambda Literary Award for LGBT Erotica

The Stars are Legion by Kameron Hurley: B&N Sci-Fi’s Best SFF Books of 2017, Kirkus’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of 2017

Wanted, a Gentleman by KJ Charles: a B&N Best Book of 2017

Poetry

Thief in the Interior by Philip B. Williams: Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry

play dead by francine j. harris: Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Poetry (tie)

The Complete Works of Pat Parker edited by Julie R. Enszer: Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Poetry (tie)

Reacquainted with LifeKOKUMO: Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Poetry

When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities by Chen Chen: Library Journal‘s Best Books of 2017 (Poetry)

Non-Fiction

How to Survive a Plague: The Inside Story of How Citizens and Science Tamed AIDS, David France: Lambda Literary Award for LGBT Nonfiction

Black Dove: Mama, Mi’jo, and Me by Ana Castillo: Lambda Literary Award for Bisexual Nonfiction

Life Beyond My Body: A Transgender Journey to Manhood in China by Lei Ming and Lura Frazey: Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Nonfiction

Mean by Myriam Gurba: Top 10 Queer and Feminist Books of 2017 via Autostraddle, Library Journal‘s Best Books of 2017 (Memoir)

To My Trans Sisters, ed. by Charlie Cregg: Top 10 Queer and Feminist Books of 2017 via Autostraddle

We Are Never Meeting in Real Life: Essays by Samantha Irby: Autostraddle’s Top 10 Queer and Feminist Books of 2017, one of New York Times’ Critics’ Top Books of 2017, Chicago Tribune’s Best Books of 2017, Elle‘s Best Books of 2017, NPR’s Best Books of 2017,

Fave Five: M/M Historical Romance

Prosperity by Alexis Hall

Enlightenment series by Joanna Chambers

Mechanical Universe series by E.E. Ottoman

Society of Gentlemen series and pretty much everything else by KJ Charles

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee (YA)

Rainbow heart

TBRainbow Alert #7!

For those of you who feel like you’ve already read every LGBTQIAP+ book in existence, not to worry – there’s plenty still to come! Every TBRainbow Alert will have a mix of five LGBTQIAP+ titles to make sure are on your radar, along with why I think they should be on your radar. If you missed the earlier alerts, you can check out those titles here. And now, because I can’t wait to get these books on your reading lists, check out some of what awaits in 2017!

Radio Silence (March 28)*
Author: Alice Oseman
Genre/Category: Contemporary YA
Rainbow details: bi MC, major demi secondary
Why put it on your radar?
Just gonna repost my entire GR review here: Okay I totally see why people are in love with this book – I definitely know people for whom reading this would feel like coming home, and I hope everyone for whom that’s true finds it. If you’re afraid to be yourself, to show your weird; if finding a friend with whom you really click is so rare for you that you feel legit terror at the idea of losing it; if you’re still working out your sexuality (or lack thereof); if you’re a fan of Welcome to Night Vale… Anyway, read it. (Plus, on-page bi MC and also the first YA in which I’ve ever seen the word demisexual.)

*This is the US release date. It originally released in the UK in 2016.

Finding Your Feet (January 16)
Author: Cass Lennox
Genre/Category: Contemporary Romance
Rainbow details: ace female/trans male
Why put it on your radar?
I haven’t read any of the books in this series yet, but they’re so full of underrepresented characters, I’m just hoping to love them all, and hoping lots of people who haven’t been able to find themselves in books yet can find themselves in these!

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue (June 20)
Author: Mackenzi Lee
Genre/Category: Historical YA
Rainbow details: Bi MC and LI
Why put it on your radar?
This book is so. Much. Fun. If you follow Mackenzi Lee on Twitter (or have at least seen her #BygoneBadassBroads series) you know how awesomely fun she can make history, and how she makes characters from eras you might think stodgy come to life.

Queens of Geek (March 14)
Author: Jen Wilde
Genre/Category: Contemporary YA
Rainbow details: Bi MC, lesbian LI
Why put it on your radar?
This is a super freaking cute fandom book with two best friends narrating, providing one f/f romance and one cishet romance. It’s also got lovely autism rep, and is full of encouraging messages. This one particularly stuck out to me as being a good choice for reluctant readers.

Dreadnought (January 24)
Author: April Daniels
Genre/Category: Sci-Fi YA
Rainbow details: Trans MC
Why put it on your radar?
TRANS SUPERHERO BOOK. We good here? Yeah, I thought so.

Around the Blogosqueer: #BiYABooks

Welcome back to Around the Blogosqueer, where we take a closer look at a delightfully rainbow-y corner of the internet! Today we’re checking out #BiYABooks, a Twitter chat about YA books with bisexual main characters, run by three YA authors!

#BiYABooks grew out of an IRL discussion between authors Mackenzi Lee (@TheMackenziLee) and Rebecca Wells (@rebeccawriting) about the lamentable lack of young adult books featuring bisexual main characters. When they took this discussion to Twitter late last year, they got a ton of great responses pointing them toward bi representation in books. It was phenomenal to see what they had been missing, but it did make them think that maybe part of the problem was that while these books did exist, not enough people were hearing about them! So Mackenzi and Rebecca invited author Ashley Herring Blake (@ashleyhblake) to team up and started #BiYABooks as a way to showcase, examine, and celebrate that bisexual representation.

When selecting books to discuss for the chat, Mackenzi, Rebecca, and Ashley try to pick a variety, including contemporary, speculative, and historical. They also try to select books that feature bisexual main characters of all genders, color, varying religions, and abilities. They are hopeful that intersectional books will increase in number and availability and that, before too long, bisexual teens will have a much easier time finding themselves between the pages of a book.

So what books have they done so far?

And what’s up next?

Over You by Amy Reed

16074995Max would follow Sadie anywhere, so when Sadie decides to ditch her problems and escape to Nebraska for the summer, it’s only natural for Max to go along. Max is Sadie’s confidante, her protector, and her best friend. This summer will be all about them. This summer will be perfect.

And then they meet Dylan. Dylan is dark, dangerous, and intoxicating, and he awakens something in Max that she never knew existed. No matter how much she wants to, she can’t back away from him.

But Sadie has her own intensity, and has never allowed Max to become close with anyone else. Max doesn’t know who she is without Sadie, but she’d better start learning. Because if she doesn’t make a decision about Dylan, about Sadie, about herself it’s going to be made for her.

Tune in at 9 p.m EST on August 23rd to discuss!

And finally, get to know the authors behind the chat!

Rebecca Wells is an overly enthusiastic book peddler (otherwise known as a manager at an independent bookstore) specializing in children’s literature. When not shouting on the internet about her newest favorites, she writes (mostly) YA (mostly) fantasy books, which are represented by the fabulous Rebecca Podos at Rees Literary. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Simmons College and has too many books on her nightstand.

Mackenzi Lee is a reader, writer, bookseller, unapologetic fangirl, and fast talker. She holds a BA in history and an MFA from Simmons College in writing for children and young adults. Her young adult historical fantasy novel, This Monstrous Thing, which won the PEN-New England Susan P. Bloom Children’s Book Discovery Award, is out now from HarperCollins. Her second book, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, a historical adventure novel about boys in love, will be released in 2017. She loves Diet Coke, sweater weather, and Star Wars.

Ashley Herring Blake is a reader, writer, and mom to two boisterous boys. She holds a Master’s degree in teaching and loves coffee, arranging her books by color, and watching Buffy over and over again on Netflix with her friends. Her young adult contemporary novel, Suffer Love, is out now from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Her second book, How to Make a Wish, another contemporary about a bisexual girl in the throes of a toxic relationship with her mother all the while falling in love with another girl, will release in 2017. Girl Made of Stars, a book about a girl whose twin brother is accused of rape, will release in 2018.

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